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Odd Wisconsin: Flying saucers lit up the sky
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Odd Wisconsin: Flying saucers lit up the sky

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The nation's largest streak of UFO sightings happened in July 1947, when dozens of flying saucers were reported by hundreds of witnesses across 36 states. And Wisconsin had its share.

In mid-June, Professor E.B. McGilvary watched a disc two-thirds the size of the moon pass across the Madison sky. It was illuminated from within and left no trail as it disappeared behind the trees.

On July 6, Gordon Neilson spotted one while driving between Burlington and Lake Geneva. "My wife noticed the saucer first and called it to my attention rather humorously, in view of all the publicity these unknown devices have had recently," he noted. It was shaped "like a common household saucer" and powered by a propeller "that seemed to be larger than the saucer itself."

That night, two Milwaukee men saw three round craft shoot over Lake Michigan. Colored like "balls of fire," the UFOs traveled at a "terrific" rate of speed about a mile offshore. Others were reported in Janesville.

The Rev. Joseph Bradsky of Grafton contacted police when a disc crashed into his yard that weekend. He described a metal saucer 18 inches in diameter with a center hole bordered by "gadgets and wires." When he picked it up it was warm to the touch.

He was holding it for the FBI when, on closer inspection, he read the letters "high carbon 100 percent steel" engraved on it. Authorities concluded it was a circular saw blade that accidentally escaped from a neighboring workshop.

www.wisconsinhistory.org

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